87th LegislatureStatewide NewsGender Modification Surgeries Constitute Child Abuse, Texas Family Protective Services Announces

Going forward, the agency will treat medically unnecessary gender transition surgeries as child abuse. The letter does not address puberty-blocking drugs or hormonal treatments.
August 11, 2021
The Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) will begin treating gender modification surgeries as child abuse, Governor Greg Abbott announced.

Five days ago, Abbott sent a letter to DFPS asking the agency to determine whether these procedures count as abuse when performed on children. DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters responded in a letter today saying state law already classifies these surgeries as child abuse when not “medically necessary.”

“Genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery is child abuse, subject to all rules and procedures pertaining to child abuse,” Masters wrote.

As you have described, this surgical procedure physically alters a child’s genitalia for non-medical purposes potentially inflicting irreversible harm to children’s bodies. Generally, children in the care and custody of a parent lack the legal capacity to consent to surgical treatments, making them more vulnerable.”

Masters cites the same sections of state law that Abbott included in his letter, defining abuse by a standard of “genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child.”

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She elaborates that these surgeries may not constitute abuse if a surgeon performs them for medical reasons unrelated to gender transition.

State law punishes failure to report child abuse as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $4,000. Intentionally hiding child abuse is a state jail felony.

“[A]llegations involving genital mutilation of a child through reassignment surgery will be promptly and thoroughly investigated and any appropriate actions will be taken,” Masters wrote at the end of her letter.

Like Abbott’s request, the letter does not address counseling or chemicals meant to aid transition.

Previously, Abbott swore to “address the problem” of the law’s silence on child gender modification through executive power. Legislative efforts to ban child gender modification sputtered and died without a vote during the regular session. Over the protests of party leadership, Abbott has not included it as an agenda item for the two special sessions that he has called since then.

Abbott’s attention to the issue is a new development, one potentially spurred by criticism from his primary election challengers.

Don Huffines, a former state lawmaker and one of Abbott’s Republican gubernatorial challengers, has criticized him since the beginning of his campaign for withholding support from proposed child gender modification bans.

Moments after Abbott announced a response from DFPS today, Huffines continued in the same vein, calling the letter a half-measure.

“Greg Abbott was dishonest to Jeff Younger when he promised he would stop the abuses being inflicted on his son James. He was dishonest to Dallas radio host Mark Davis when he promised to issue an executive order outlawing the dispensation of puberty blockers and chemical castration of minors,” Huffines claimed.

Strictly speaking, Abbott did not mention any particular procedure on Davis’ show.

“We have another solution that will address that problem that will be announced shortly,” Abbott said.

“The solution should be announced within the next week.”

Jeff Younger is the father of James, a young Texas boy whose mother claims he identifies as a girl named Luna. Jeff claims James identifies as a girl only around his mother. A recent court ruling ended a year-long balance of joint conservatorship between the parents and awarded almost all of James’ custody rights to his mother.

James’ ongoing story inspired the earliest legislative efforts to ban gender modification procedures.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.